In South Africa, the modelling behaviour of a number of major private and state organisations over the past year, and revelations of state capture, have meant that ordinary citizens have mimicked the permissive unethical behaviour of the leadership. In May, the 8th Ethics Institute Annual Conference was held in Midrand, Johannesburg. The theme for this year’s conference was, “How to change ethical conduct within organisations.”
Michael Judin, a member of the task team that worked on King IV, was speaking at a Governance and Business Ethics Seminar earlier in the year. Mr Judin shared with the delegates his thoughts on ethics in South Africa. He believes that one won’t get ethical behaviour in a culture that is not ethical. He went on to say that there are global examples in history that have taken an unethical environment to an enabling and ethical environment. What these examples have in common is the fear of consequence. Mr Judin believes that South Africa has such a mechanism - the judiciary - and that the judiciary of South Africa has never waivered.
While King IV, the governance guideline released in 2016, is not legally binding, it is worth noting that aspects of King III have been used to assist judgements in civil cases and thus, King IV finds itself not only an aspirational document, but also part of Common Law. Of relevance is the development that organisations will lose the defence of the business judgement rule in the Companies Act (no. 71 of 2008) if they do not take cognisance of the guidelines as published in King IV.
Deputy Chief Justice, Raymond Zondo, agrees that ethics and the law often overlap. In his address at the Ethics Institute Conference, Justice Zondo stated that South Africans must act ethically beyond mere legal compliance.
A significant contribution to King IV, which did not appear in the first three publications, was the focus on “…ethical and effective leadership by a governing body”. The outcome of ethical leadership is a high trust ethical culture, based on broad based ownership of ethics amongst all stakeholders.
UCL Company’s approach to ethical standards has created a pleasant, productive workplace, characterised by high levels of fairness, respect, accountability and responsibility. It has positioned itself as an employer of choice, attracting and retaining the best talent. Our ethical leadership has fostered sound relationships with internal and external stakeholders, creating a high degree of customer and investor confidence.
In line with this behaviour, the SEC has paid closer scrutiny to the Corporate Social Investment programmes with which it has become involved, ensuring greater accountability, transparency and sustainability of these programmes. Not all of the applications have withstood the rigours of the selection process, but we anticipate that this will improve as the ethical values of the Company continue to be practised.
During the year in review, the SHE Department of UCL Company, has made significant strides in educating employees on the ethical values of the Company. In particular matters of employee wellness and appropriate record keeping were bought into focus. Improved communication and greater understanding between role players will see an improvement in Company morale.
The Social and Ethics Committee continues to assist the Board in ensuring that the Board discharges it’s fiduciary duties in respect of approved policy for transformation of South African businesses. The
Committee also assists the Board in steering and setting strategic direction that will see fundamental
change to the Company, in line with the empowerment goals of the country for historically dis-advantaged individuals in South Africa.
While no formal survey was done during the current year, informal discussions and various platforms confirm that UCL Company continues to build on its reputation for respecting individuals and for fostering an environment which is free from prejudice, discrimination, bias and harassment.
UCL Company is obligated to acquire various environmental permits and permissions in its day to day activities however, it also acknowledges its responsibility to protect the environment in the long term and does so through its waste management programme. The recycling initiative, housed at the Manufacturing division, has shown continued improvement and growth and was recently extended to include waste collection from the internal factory village. The ambition of the Company, is to be able to roll out this service to the greater Dalton community over the next year.
Corporate Social Investment Contributions
1 018 323
3 581 752
3 155 104
4 523 878
5 900 265
3 300 945
1 849 126
6 410 593
6 181 602
3 182 180
2 528 818
2 165 891
4 379 631
12 756 738
11 619 032
10 405 905
10 172 259
10 786 706
As a responsible corporate citizen, UCL recognises its responsibility towards stakeholders in the communities within which it operates as well as towards those who fall under its sphere of influence. Accordingly, the Company is committed to promoting its corporate responsibilities in harmony with its broader vision and mission.